The Gender Binary System In The Film Paris Is Burning

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The gender binary system has been in place for many years and stems from the main disparity between the genders: reproductive organs or the biological body, leaving no room for anything else on the gender spectrum. Galen’s On the Usefulness of the Parts of the Human Body (Excerpt), dating from 130-200 AD, perfectly demonstrates the belief that womanhood and manhood come down to their biological differences. This way of thinking can be related to two people, who do not fit the binary, “profiled” in the film Paris is Burning (1990): Venus Xtravaganza, who equates gender to sex and Pepper Labeija, who does not equate the two. Venus Xtravaganza is a “passing” transgender woman in Harlem who faces the struggles of not completely fitting the gender norm in a society where gender is black and white. Her ideal life would be one where she has money, is rid of her penis and is living as a housewife. Without realizing it, Venus, along with many other trans women, in this movie, perpetuates the female stereotypes. This idea that having a sex change is reaching womanhood and ultimate happiness shows that for her, biological body equates to gender. Galen has the same mindset; “All the parts, then, that …show more content…
Pepper Labeija, however, does not agree. They mentioned, in the movie, that they did not want to have a sex change, as they did not want to regret it later. Pepper Labeija also says that a sex change is taking it too far. They explained that a lot of people think having a vagina makes things better, but in actuality, it might make things worse. This idea that having a vagina makes things more difficult is true; women, in Galen’s time and even today, are viewed as inferior compared to their male counterparts. Pepper Labeija seems to be living as a woman, but they did not go through with a sex change. This is a new perspective to gender; they are not conforming to gender

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